June 12, 2012

Today's Hotness: Superchunk, FOTL, D n' C, dB's

Good week for the new stuff this week. All out today in your favorite music boutique or online merchant:

 Hey, guess what? That magnificent comeback album from Superchunk that we all loved so much? It's already two years old! Hopefully we won't have to wait another Wrens album-gap until their next one, but in the meanwho, Superchunk kicks off your summer square on the nose with the new single "This Summer" (Merge), a sort of rock version of "Nightswimming" with heavy guitars and a heavier heart. It's paired with a distorted, more menacing take on Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" that mightn't blow your mind, but is great fun, nonetheless. The bonus track on the digital download that comes with the 7" is an acoustic take of the A-side that, in this more simplistic setting emphasizes the wistfulness even further.
 Superchunk: Intertubes | Twitter

Its been three years, meanwhile, since a Future of the Left full length - not that they haven't been busy what with worldwide touring, lineup changes, and an EP (last year's Polymers Are Forever) that hinted at some changes. Frontman Andy Falkous' throat-shredding roar seemed slightly more reserved. A physical limitation? Evolution? Maturity? The answers come today with The Plot Against Common Sense (Xtra Mile), but they've really been there the whole way. FOTL has, on the surface, been walking a fine line - if you're not paying attention, you're going to miss the point - or the joke (or both) - and maybe dismiss some of their stuff as testosterone-fueled rants of little consequence.

But they've always stretched beyond all that. Primitive, sometimes punishing synths, layered vocals, alternate tunings, and an occasional yearning for the epic have kept nudging them forward. And they've always had hooks too, but here there's a continued evolution in melody and harmony - hell, "Goals in Slow Motion" is downright poppy. And oh, how satisfying that obliterated bass line is. The new album will still keep us all going with the halting, crushing rhythms and cutting,  commentary that we're all still counting on, but with a new feel to the grooves with new bass player Julia Ruzicka. So give it your full attention. The Plot... demands it - and deserves it. Better yet, see them live and all will become clear.

Future of the Left: Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
Check out their new video at Rolling Stone.
Previously: And Then This Happened: Future of the Left, The Beatings

 Drivin n Cryin launches year-long series of EPs today with Songs From The Laundromat. They say each release will emphasize a different part of their sound (the more self-explanatory Songs About Cars, Space and The Ramones is next, followed by Songs From The Garage and a yet-to-be-titled 4th EP), but to these ears, Songs... covers the length and breadth of their career nicely. "Dirty" is a greasy piece of nasty business and it, along with "Ain't Waitin' On Tomorrow," sound like they came from a better, less self-conscious version of 1993's Smoke, "REM" is a great call-out, in-joke tribute to that band (R.I.P.) that will put a smile on the face of anyone who got into Drivin' n' Cryin' via R.E.M. back when when the former's Mystery Road tour crossed paths with the Green tour. and "Clean Up" is sort of a platonic ideal of Southern Rock (mine, at least). A strummy gem that wouldn't sound out of place on a college radio station in Athens or Chapel Hill in the late 80's or early 90's (by maybe, say, The dB's? It might be frontman Kevn Kinney's finest song in years. Drivin' n' Cryin's 21st century renaissance rolls on.

drivin' n' cryin': Intertubes | Facebook | Twitter
Previously: Rock Over Boston | drivin n cryin | TT the Bear's | 11.15.2009

The dB's name may have continued a bit longer, and front-duo Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey may have collaborated in the intervening years, but what we have here is the band's first proper full length studio album since 1984.  Falling Off The Sky (Bar None) is nothing short of a relief - a strummy, hooky jangle of pop that once ruled "college rock." It's a long overdue fresh fix.

The dB's: Intertubes | Twitter

- Michael Piantigini

No comments: